MARYSVILLE — Tom King’s “Road To Recovery” began last summer, following his wife’s death.
Six months after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, Stacey King died Jan. 4, 2014, at the age of 55.
She and Tom had been married 33 years, and one year after her diagnosis, he made up his mind to do what he could for cancer patients who were still alive.
“I’m retired, so after the training and background check, I was able to drive patients once or twice a week,” King said of his stint as a “Road To Recovery” driver for the American Cancer Society, which he’s continued going into this summer.
King typically schedules his drive times for Fridays, to coincide with his volunteer work for the Marysville Community Food Bank.
“There’s a real need for this service,” King said. “Some of these folks don’t own a vehicle to begin with, while others wind up so tired and nauseated after their treatments that they can’t drive themselves. Not everyone has a support system of friends or family who can give them rides.”
King tries to stay within north Snohomish County during his driving stints, but he’s taken patients as far as Seattle and gotten to know a lot about them.
“Not everyone feels like talking, and I respect that, but a lot of them do,” King said. “One fella was a retired barber who’d been in the Korean War and customized hot rods from the Fifties.”
King has shared stories of his own loss, when asked, although he tends to be brief in his details. What matters more is that he provide an ear, if needed, and be reliable as a driver.
“People are counting on you to make their medical appointments, so you have to be there on time,” King said. “Obviously, you have to be a good driver as well, but even little things, like making sure your passengers aren’t too cold or hot, make all the difference.”
Dawn Hackett, the Snohomish County coordinator for Road To Recovery since December of 2013, said 41 drivers are active in the program, but barely half are available at any given time, between work and family obligations.
That being said, any amount of time drivers can spare would be appreciated.
“Even if it’s just one day a month, it would help out,” Hackett said. “It doesn’t even have to be the same day each month. Our needs fluctuate so much that we can use drivers any time, any day they’re available. Even I’ve pitched in to drive sometimes. That’s how I got started in this program.”
As a cancer survivor, Hackett attested to the practical and emotional value of Road To Recovery, both to the patient and the driver.
For details, contact Jerri Wood at 425-404-2199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.